Review: Maurice Marinot: A Passion For Glass @ National Museum Wales
Maurice Marinot is considered by many to be one of the finest glassmakers of the twentieth century, and an early pioneer of glass as an art work, not just as a practical commodity. Andre Derain said of his work "I have never seen anything so beautiful, and at the same time so simple." The National Museum Wales' exhibition of some of his art work, which started in December and ends in June, is an excellent showcase of the talent of Marinot.
Who was Maurice Marinot?
As stated earlier, Marinot was an early pioneer of glass as an art form and during his time as an artist, produced some beautiful and unusual pieces of art using both glass and paint.
Maurice Marinot was born in 1882 in Troyes which is in the north east of France. In 1905, when Marinot was 23, his paintings were displayed in the "Salon d'automne" alongside Matisse and Derain. The critic Louis Vauxcelles attacked the painters, calling them "fauves" which means wild beasts in French. "Fauves" would later become "Fauvism", the name for this particular movement. The "Fauvists" were known for their wild brush strokes and bold colour schemes.
In 1911, Marinot visited the glass works of his old school friends Gabriel and Eugene Viard near Bar-sur-Seine. He became interested in the making of glass as an art form and persuaded Gabriel and Eugene to give him a work space and tools in their factory.
Sadly, in 1937, Marinot's health began to deteriorate and a catastrophic fire at the glassworks forced Marinot to retire after 26 years of glass making.
In 1944, during the allied bombing of Troyes, Marinot's studio was destroyed. He lost over two thousand five hundred paintings, thousands of drawings and many of his glassworks.
He died in 1960 in his home town of Troyes.
This exhibition includes works from the V&A and the Leicester Arts and Museum Services.
Paintings in the exhibition
The Church of Noos: Overcast Weather by Maurice Marinot
cc: the copyright holder; image credit: The National Museum of Wales / Amgueddfa Cymru
As well as being a pioneer of glassmaking as an art form, Marinot was also an active painter, painting from around the 1910s up to the 1950s. The exhibition has a wide range of paintings, ranging from his sketches (see "Near Bar-sur-Seine" which was painted in 1925, and "Study of a Vase" painted in 1923), through to his "Fauvist" paintings (see "The Church of Noos: Overcast Weather" and "At Vermoise")
I liked "The Church of Noos: Overcast Weather", because of Marinot's use of bold vibrant colours and how the distinction between light and shade is made very obvious (inky blues for shade, and pale yellows for light.) I also liked "At Vermoise" because of the unusual way in which the sky, clouds in particular, are captured. The clouds are drawn with blue, yellow, pink and black crayons. The clouds are not however drawn in a way where you can see how they look, but are drawn so you can only see how the light shines through them, making you imagine them for yourself. In my opinion, this picture has some definite similarities to Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" painted in June 1889.
See more of Marinot's painting here.
Glasswork in the exhibition
cc: Dr Pierre Merat; image credit: The National Museum of Wales / Amgueddfa Cymru
During Marinot's time spent making glass, he went through two definite periods: both of which are plain to see in the exhibition.
Marinot's earlier glass work was much more elaborate, compared to his later work. Enamelling was a common feature of his work, and was often very detailed. A clear example of this is a tall narrow vase in one of the display cabinets in the centre of the room. The top and middle of the vase are clear glass, with a circular acid etching every few centimetres. However, at the bottom of the glass vase, fruit bowls are painted- these I think are similar to Poole Pottery' s detailed enamelling on their ceramics.
His later work is much denser, bolder and captures the light well. Marinot paints the glass, and does not leave it clear like as before. An inky blue bottle and stopper and a tiger striped bottle and stopper are clear examples of Marinot expanding his thinking, and starting to transfer the colour schemes used in his paintings to his glasswork.
As well as broadening colour usage, Marinot made his glasswork denser and of no clear shape or form.
My favourite glassworks of his in the exhibition are his clear glass vases and bottles. Although clear, they make use of the form "crackled glass". The glass does not have a smooth surface, but has a crinkled one. They capture the light well, and if I could afford to buy one of these, I would.
Considering the exhibition is called "Maurice Marinot: A Passion for Glass", you'd expect there to be quite a lot of his glasswork, but there isn't. There are more of his paintings compared to his glasswork, so the title of the exhibition is misleading.
Also, the exhibition is held in a side room of a main gallery and is not advertised at all well, so I had to spend a long time searching for it!
Having said this however, the exhibition is still an excellent showcase of Marinot's work and is interesting if you want to see a wide range of his art work, not just his glasswork.
Maurice Marinot: A Passion for Glass began on 20th December and continues until the 7th of June at the National Museum, Wales. All guests are suitable and there are no entry fees. The exhibition also includes lunchtime talks on the artist and the history of glass as an art medium.
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Portrait of Marinot: image credit: docantic